The Best Probiotics for Your Skin
Our skin can be the biggest indicator of our health, but it’s not easy to make the link between inner health and an outbreak of eczema, rosacea, or acne. According to Whitney Bowe, MD, 42 percent of all doctor visits are related to skin issues. That's a lot of "what do you think this rash is, doc?" type visits.
A trip to the doctor is not a bad idea, but it may also be a good time to look under the largest organ of your body and figure out why you're having these issues in the first place. Many of us tend to stick to the surface of skin issues. When faced with a skin concern, we switch up our personal care products in search of the ideal product. Or maybe we attempt an 8-step skincare routine and give up as soon as we realize we don't have 10 minutes to dedicate to washing our face before work. When faced with a breakout, we bust out the latest trending treatment, like the infamous charcoal mask that peels away your pores and dead skin, along with your dignity as you fight back tears getting the mask off.
While there definitely are amazing products out there, skin is not just a surface issue. It's a mirror of what's going on inside your body. Skin is not only our largest organ, it's also the final destination for elimination. Whatever is not taken care of in your digestive system, eventually makes its way out through your skin via sweat. Skin is not some lone wolf working on its own; it's dependent on the inner workings of your body. In her book, The Beauty of Dirty Skin, author Whitney Bowe explains that the biggest culprit of the skin problems she sees day in and day out of her dermatology office is a breakdown in what she calls the gut-brain-skin axis. Why? Because those pesky skin problems like acne and eczema are a result of inflammation, and inflammation starts in the gut.
We need inflammation to help us fight off infections and recover from injuries, but when your body is in overdrive dealing with stress, hormone imbalance, and those six slices of pizza you ate for dinner, it can turn into a state of chronic inflammation. This translates to hypersensitive skin, rashes, rosacea, eczema, and acne. So, what's a chronically inflamed gal to do? Clean up your lifestyle. Heal your gut. And then buy the right skincare products.
Lifestyle Changes for Clear Skin
Why You Buggin'
It's old news now that probiotics are good for you, right? They can help you stay regular. They can help stabilize your mood. And yes, they can help clear up your skin. Probiotics vary in price, effectiveness, and purpose, so you need to do your homework before hitting that "add to cart" button. Look for the following strains on the back of the bottle. These are the strains that have been shown in multiple scientific studies to get the job done.
Daily Dosage | 10-15 Billion CFU
Acne and Rosacea| Streptococcus salivarius | Lactobacilus planatarum | Lactobacilus paracasei
Premature Aging | Lactobacillus plantarum | Streptococcus thermophilus | Bacillus coagulans
Sensitive Skin | Streptococcus thermophilus
Depression and Anxiety | Lactobacillus rhammosus and Lactobacillus helveticus
Eat Real Food
We know this stuff, right? But in case we need a reminder when the cravings kick in...
Little to no sugar (including hidden sugars in processed foods like High Fructose Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Fructose, Glucose, Lactose, Maltose, and Sucrose)
Little to no processed foods (processed foods act like sugar in your body)
Lots of vegetables (the more colorful your plate is, the better - but not colored by food dyes!)
Lots of fruit (the naturally occuring sugar in fruit is paired with fiber making it much easier to digest than added sugar)
Healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, almonds, walnuts, salmon)
Fermented Foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha)
Water, Water, Water
A perfect diet is not necessary to live a healthy life. Unless you have serious allergies or food sensitivities, it's not the end of the world to indulge in the occasional dessert or carb-loaded dinner with friends. The best thing you can do is just be aware of how your body feels after you eat certain foods. If you feel tired and bloated or congested 30 minutes after eating pasta alfredo, that's a clue that your body is having a hard time with what you just fed it. If you get congested after eating a grilled cheese, that’s a clue your body doesn’t like dairy.
Work It Out
You know how skin gets rid of toxins? Sweat. So, get your sweat on with your favorite form of exercise. Yoga, Zumba, dancing in your living room, dusting off the elliptical and then actually using it, running, brisk walking, Crossfit, re-organizing your closet, whatever. Just do what it takes to get your heart pumping and sweat it out. Make it a point to work out in some way every day. That doesn't mean intense 1.5 hour cycling every day. Change things up depending on how you feel. Some days we're all about the cardio, and some days we just need to stretch and practice headstands on the yoga mat. Listen to your body. Your body knows what she needs, even when your brain is trying to convince her that salsa is a vegetable.
Add Skin Friendly Herbs to Your Diet
Herbal tonics, elixirs, and adaptogens are a huge trend right now. Everything from mushroom coffee to turmeric lattes are making their way into our local coffee shops and kitchens. Adaptogens are plants that help the body "adapt" or deal with stress, balance hormones, calm the nervous system and aid with digestion. Helping your body function properly naturally leads to healthier skin.
Here are a few recommended herbs to add to your smoothies, tea, or coffee:
Ashwagandha - energy and mental clarity
Cocao - blood sugar regulation and hormone balancing
Turmeric (curcumin) - anti-inflammatory
Maca - energy and libido
Moringa - protein, antioxidants, vitamins A & C, calcium
Clean Up Your Skincare Routine
Now that you're eating great, taking a probiotic, working out, and pooping on the regular, shopping for skincare shouldn't be quite as complicated. Don't overthink it. At the end of the day, we just need to clean our lovely faces, spritz a little toning mist on there, and moisturize. I'm a big fan of Meow Meow Tweet and LUA Skincare, which we sell here. And give the DIY route a try, too. If you're a fan of natural skincare products, you definitely need to make your own skincare at least once to really understand how simple it is to take care of your skin. Check out my favorite book recommendations on natural skincare below if you want to learn more from the pros.
Like everything else in life, skin has a cycle. Your body regenerates a whole new cast of cells every 7 years. The moon cycles 28 days. Your period cycles every 28-35 days. And your skin regenerates every 30 or so days. Give yourself a month of this healthy skin protocol before you call it quits and down a pint of Ben & Jerry's. Your skin needs time to recover from your unhealthy ways and get back to its naturally healthy state. The next time you visit the doctor for a skin issue, maybe instead of taking the usual take two of these and call me in the morning route, consider getting gutsy with your skincare routine for 30 days and see what happens.
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